22 July 2021

Honda Swindon - UK

Honda opened a plant in the UK at Swindon, Wiltshire and in 1992, the Honda Accord started rolling off the assembly line. The Honda Concerto was also UK assembled and that commenced in 1989 but that was produced by MG Rover for Honda. At first things went well with Honda's collaboration with MG Rover but BMW's taking over MGR moved Honda to quickly withdraw from the arrangement. The sad thing about that was both MGR and Honda suffered from the loss of cost savings the arrangement provided.

We all know the mess BMW made of MGR but Honda soldiered on. However, the EU decided to phase out import duties on cars and Honda's sales in Europe were in decline. The Swindon plant was exporting most of its product out of Europe in the form of the new Civic. It was also down to one model which causes cyclical cost issues. The upshot is Honda closes the plant at the end of July 2021. 

Now for some model history. The Accord was assembled effectively from 1993 for nine years and in that time 325,500 were made (36,200 per year). In 1995 Civic assembly was going along nicely and continued down to the end over a 27 year period (one not counted here). The Type R was a highlight of that. The undulating volume averaged out at 76,600 and by the time the factory finally closes its doors, over 2 million will have been produced.

The CR-V SUV came along in the year 2000 but it was 2002 when things got serious. 1,200,000 in all were made. The Jazz made a cameo appearance from 2009 to 2015 with nearly 153,000 units assembled. 

Looking back, it was in the 2000's when the plant was at its most productive, reaching nearly a quarter of a million cars with two models. Beyond that, even with three models the numbers were falling as European sales fell. The final attempt was made with a lone Civic Hatchback made for the global market but the cost effectiveness of that was its downfall. It was cheaper to make the Civic in other plants closer to where they are sold. 

Another chapter of UK car manufacturing had been written and now ended. Many in the UK wouldn't know or care anyway, symptomatic of the culture that pervades modern Britain. Mind you it can't all be blamed on that as Honda's way of succeeding in the European market was increasingly ineffective.   

Toyota Burnaston - UK

Toyota has numerous plants around the world. They have only ever closed one I believe, in Australia. So that gives security to workers knowing that a facility is in doubt each time a model nears the end of its production cycle. 

It started back in 1993 at a time when Japanese car makers were trying to get around duty on cars imported from Japan. The UK was the most popular choice and Toyota was one of three companies that built assembly plants. 

The Carina kicked things off (green shading in the Avensis column). As production ramped up, in due course saloon, liftback and estate models were made. In total 467,000 were assembled at Burnaston before it was replaced by the Avensis. There is an overlap year between models in case you wondered. 

The Avensis was also with three body styles for the next two generations as sales went along very nicely. For the third generation Avensis, the liftback version was dropped. Volume didn't reflect a new model and the model ended in 2018 as buyers deserted the medium car segment. In all 1,936,500 were made in total over three generations. 

Turning our attention to the Corolla / Auris column, which started in 1997 through to today. At first, the numbers were low but by the introduction of the Auris nameplate in 2006 volumes were much stronger. In 2010, a hybrid version was added to the range which has its own column below and the production figure is already included with the Corolla. Initially not that influential but after few years it climbed. By 2020, it accounts for nearly all the production of the Corolla.

4.6 million cars have left the assembly line so far, although current production is below the yearly average of 163,000. It would be more cost effective to have a second model at the plant as has been the case for much of its existence but many factors are involved in such a decision. Maybe in due course a fully electric model will be added. 

21 July 2021

Vauxhall Ellesmere Port - UK

Back in 1964 GM Vauxhall started producing the Viva model at its new Ellesmere Port facility. The Chevette was introduced in 1975 as the Viva was being phased out. Then in 1980, the Astra production commenced to replace the Chevette. The plant became known as the home of the Astra. 

The figures below are for production at the plant as best I could assemble. It is accurate as far as I'm concerned but any corrections are welcome. The Astra car range was complemented by a wagon variant from 2010 and the Astra van, a popular workhorse for commercial operators going back to 1981. It was replaced by the Corsa Combo in 2013. The Vectra was briefly added when it was moved from the Luton plant.  

Below in the chart, the colour shadings are added to show model changes, some of which overlap so are indicative of each series but in change over years would include the former and latter edition. Over 3.6 million vehicles were made in the 30 odd years shown below.  

The problem for a single model plant is a car sales fall as the car ages and then lifts for the new model. This creates uneven production numbers. A second model wasn't an option for the new owner PSA and added to that is the Astra isn't as popular as it was. So could the plant have a future? The new owner promised no plant closures when the Stellantis entity was created and took the reigns.

After several months of uncertainty and with government support, the plant will no longer make the next Astra series but rather an electric van. Volume is expected to be on the 50,000 unit mark, well down on plant capacity but no worse than current Astra numbers anyway. The model involved hasn't been disclosed at the time of typing. 

The plant upgrade includes a new body shop (I could do with one of those), an upgraded assembly line and a battery pack assembly unit. With that sort of commitment, the plant's future seems to be bright after years of uncertainty. 

Renault Brand Sales : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

With sales up 19% for Renault and +43% for Alpine, things are ticking along quite nicely. The Clio is currently 16% of total sales, down from 26% a decade ago. The move toward SUV/crossover types of cars doing their thing. The Captur SUV followed by several other models all on the up in an impressive way. 

The Alpine sports car isn't included in Renault's figures but added separately as a brand in its own right but not justifying its own page. A hot hatch and SUV will be added to the range in the not too distant future. 

Data source: Renault Group.

20 July 2021

Lada Brand Sales : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

The Lada car company started out in the 1970's making Fiat models but eventually turned to produce their own models. The Renault Group took control in 2016 and after some rationalisation a leaner company emerged. Like Dacia, it aims to offer a rugged, value for money vehicle ideally suited to the Russian market. It is most popular away from big cities. Its similar focus to Dacia led to both brands becoming part of the Lada-Dacia unit from the beginning of 2021. 

The compact Granta sedan is the best selling model, ahead of the slightly larger Vesta sedan/wagon. The small tradesmanlike Largus MPV has found a niche in the market while the small 4x4 continues to fulfill an important role in the range. 

The crossover Xray isn't a big selling model and the Niva SUV has been integrated into the range from AvtoVaz, which has ceased operation. Comparing 2021 Lada Niva sales to 2020 AvtoVaz it had a 43% increase. 

Dacia Brand Sales : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

Spring has arrived, in the form of an EV city car

Dacia cars started out in 1968 making older Renault models under licence and was later purchased by Renault in 1999. The process of making uniquely designed cars was then undertaken. The cars were to be sold in central and eastern Europe but they spread westward as well to encompass the whole of the region. Its value for money, rugged and budget image was well received across the entire continent. They also sell in North Africa but elsewhere generally carry the Renault brand. 

The sales listed below are for the Dacia brand which has enjoyed a 25% increase in 2021 so far. The compact Sandero leads the way with a 44% gain and extended its lead over the Duster compact SUV. It too has gone well with a 31% upturn. 

Data source: Renault Group.

19 July 2021

Renault China Brand Sales : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

An EVEasy 3

Renault has had a shuffling of its Chinese joint venture partnerships. Brilliance Shineray went into bankruptcy in late 2020 and no longer appears in the Renault Group data. Brilliance Huasong also went but it was phased out in early 2020. 

Brilliance Jinbei is still trading, mainly making older Toyota vans. It's a modest operation in terms of size but sales are steady. For the six months, they increased by 11%, the new Granse 2020 leading the way. 

JMEV (Jiangling Group Electric Vehicle Co) uses the EVEasy brand and has the Renault Group as its major shareholder in this joint venture. It also goes under the name Yizhi. It's obviously new and is developed in collaboration with Jiangling Motors (JMC). In a rapidly growing area of the car market with many new entries, it will be of interest to see whether it can gain a foothold in China.

18 July 2021

Renault Group Top 50 Nation Sales : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

The top fifty nations for the Renault Group represent many parts of the world. Some major markets such as the U.S. aren't represented but for the most part a wide coverage. France remains the leading market from Russia and then a drop to number three. South Korea is down with Samsung seemly affected by labour unrest among other issues. 

Data source: Renault Group.

Renault Group Sales Overview : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

I have to doff my cap to Renault for their openness. They release detailed data on a monthly basis that gives an insight into the company and how it is doing. Why do other car companies not offer the same? 

The total group sold 298,000 vehicles in June, down 2.9%. 

The first section consists of the Renault and Samsung brands which sold 191,000 units. Samsung is just a Korean entity of which I wonder what the company plans for it. 

Then is the Dacia and Lada grouping. They will be working together in the future which makes sense. There was also AvtoVaz but that has been absorbed by Lada. They are both doing fine, Lada in particular. Sales in June were slightly in excess of 100,000. 

Alpine is a sports brand that will expand beyond the solitary sports car it currently sells at about 250 per month.

Finally the China connection, with Jinbei Huasong and Eveasy the two brands. The former puts a strong emphasis on vans and MPVs while Eveasy is focused on electric cars. For June, 2,500 sales were achieved. 

The year to date total for the entire Renault Group is 1,423,000, up 18.7%. All brands did OK apart from Samsung. The company is more focused on sales that deliver better margins rather than pushing volume to produce economies of scale. 

Data source: Renault.

16 July 2021

Luxembourg Car/LCV Sales : 2021 (Jan-Jun)

Registrations for June were -5% and +23% YTD. The Six months of 2021 have built nicely and registrations are looking healthy. If this continues, registrations will be back to average by years end. The '+/-' column below is comparing market share variance for six months of 2021 with a full 2020. Many with a minus differential are in fact up but they lost share.

It's a market with a strong leaning to European marques, especially German and French. Asian less so and Japanese brands are not prominent here at all. Toyota and Nissan are 19th and 20th, the leading brands from there.  

Data source: Statistiques Luxembourg.

14 July 2021

Belarus Sales: 2020

I have been sitting on this data, holding back due to its variability at times. Makes can come and go, perhaps depending on if they are affiliated with the importers association BAA or not. I went ahead anyway. Registrations for 2020 were -18% which was a common occurrence with Covid. The '+/-' column below is comparing the market share variance of 2021 with 2020.

Lada is establishing itself at the top despite a poor year, with Geely increasing strongly now in second. Renault is definitiely pulling back on volume as may be the case with VW too. UAZ popped up out of nowhere to claim 10th spot, confirming my comment on unusual variability. 

10 July 2021

Tesla's Recent History In Quarters : 2016-2021

I have to say that Tesla has defied the odds in getting this far. They benefitted from starting from scratch, both in focus, product and assembly plants that were designed specifically for electric cars. That could also have been a negative in that they had to get all those factors just about right or blow their chance. 

Below in the chart, I've put both deliveries and production side by side. There is a repetition of very similar data but you can choose which is your preference. I'll focus on delivery data here.

In 2016, 76,000 vehicles were delivered with the medium size crossover model named X arriving during the year to support the existing large five-door liftback S. 2017 was up 35% in volume and a good result with the X (picture above) getting a full year under its belt. 

The four-door fastback styled car called the Model 3 was introduced and deliveries went through the roof. An increase of 138% was enjoyed by the company, followed by a more sedate 50% in 2019.

2020 heralded the Y model, a compact crossover. An increase of only 36% was caused by a fall in S and X sales. The combined 3 and Y models were now the volume drivers. The same situation has continued in 2021 with deliveries only 23% behind 2020 with half the year to go. Put another way, deliveries are +116% comparing the first six months of both years.  

So sales for Tesla are continuing at a pace as traditional carmakers are now rushing to catch up with them. The ICE (internal combustion engine) manufacturers haven't had the same singular focus but with many countries ending ICE sales in the near future, they are quickly switching their focal point to electric cars. The real battle has only just begun. 

09 July 2021

Jaguar Sales By Plant : 2015-2021

Jaguar has diversified its production from just one plant in the UK back in 2015 to four plants in three countries.* Castle Bromwich was the sole plant in 2015. In that year the F-Type replaced the XK sports car. The timeline follows from here.

2016: The F-Pace was assigned to Solihull's Land Rover facility. The XFL started up in JLR Changshu, China. 

2017: Changshu was added the XEL and the E-Pace went to the contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. 

2018: The i-Pace was added to the Graz assembly, becoming the largest producer of Jaguar vehicles. The E-Pace became the third model at Changshu. 

2020: The XJ ended its long run and the replacement car is unexpectedly not released.

*There is also some assembly in India but that is included in the source plant of the model. The 2021 year is from January to March.

The decision not to put the E-Pace into Castle Bromich seemed a poor decision as it would have provided much-needed volume at that plant. Perhaps at the time, it wasn't possible to add another model to the assembly line. 

Summary: What the future holds for these four assembly plants will be decided by whether Jaguar becomes more niche than it already is. 

06 July 2021

Ford Mustang Yearly Production Numbers (1964 - 2020)

The Ford Mustang is an icon of the automotive industry, well in the USA anyway. Most of them were sold there after all. It created the 'pony car', an affordable compact muscle sports car. Sales took off and a star was born. Many Mustang buyers graduated onto other Ford models so it had that additional benefit as well.

Unfortunately, subsequent models got bigger and heavier - as car executives cannot resist doing - and the Mustang production slipped slowly but inexorably down. New models gave the Mustang a pep but each time a little less so. Still, it was worth the continuation.

Its main competitor was the Chevrolet Camaro, which did well but couldn't quite match the Mustang for sales. Both have sold well, so the muscle car is a popular model even if not as much today as times past. To see the Chev Camaro production history, just click here.

Below the colours are for each series, six so far. The decade figure defines the end of such in a '0' year. Each period has seen a reduction in production volume. Exports have included right hand drive recently and I see them around the roads in New Zealand, where the Mustang is proving popular.

The figures below are US production which may effectively be the same thing as world production. They were updated 06.07.2021.